Sakshi, Vinesh bow out of World Wrestling C’ship

Sakshi Malik was stunned by Luisa Niemesch of Germany 3-1 in women’s 60kg, while two-time junior world champion Victoria Anthony of the U.S. got a fall over Vinesh Phogat in 48kg.

Sakshi Malik lost tamely to a lower-ranked opponent in the round-of-16 stage.   -  Getty Images (File Photo)

After three listless days at the World Wrestling Championship, the onus was on Sakshi and Vinesh to end India’s medal drought but both failed to live up to the expectations. They exited in the round-of-16 stage.

Sakshi was stunned by Luisa Niemesch of Germany 3-1 in women’s 60kg, while two-time junior world champion Victoria Anthony of the U.S. got a fall over Vinesh Phogat in 48kg. It was a humiliating defeat for Vinesh, who had injured herself during the Rio Olympics. This was after Vinesh had earlier won her qualification round.

Other Indians in the fray on Thursday - Sheetal Tomar (53kg) and Navjot Kaur (69kg) - also bowed out of the tournament, with contrasting performances.

Sheetal surprise

Navjot was beaten 10-5 by Mongolia’s Ochirbat Nasanburmaa in the 69kg category, but surprisingly lesser-known Sheetal emerged as the only Indian woman to win her round-of-16 tie when he got the better of Jessica Mcbain of Australia 10-0 in 53kg. However, Sheetal could not maintain her rhythm and lost the quarterfinals against Estera Dobre of Romania, going down 4-2.

There were high expectations from Sakshi - India’s first woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal at the Rio Games last year - but she hardly put up a fight against a lower-ranked opponent on Thursday. Sakshi had recently climbed up a division to 60kg category at the Asian Championship in May this year, after her successful stint at the Olympics in 58kg.

Hopes on men

The 24-year-old had finished with a silver medal at the Asian Championship and decided to compete in the 60kg weight division here as well. However, it was all over for Sakshi in the opening round itself. Now, hopes rest on Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Olympian Sandeep Tomar (57kg) on the last two remaining days of the tournament to deliver India medals.

A 24-member Indian contingent had been attending special training sessions at de Bercy’s wrestling centre in Boulevard de Bercy borough here since August 6 but the grapplers do not seem to have benefitted by the rigorous practice much.